Bent Heavens

Bent Heavens

Liv Fleming's father went missing more than two years ago, not long after he claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Liv has long accepted that he's dead, though that doesn't mean she has given up their traditions. Every Sunday, she and her lifelong friend Doug Monk trudge through the woods to check the traps Lee left behind, traps he set to catch the aliens he so...

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Title:Bent Heavens
Author:Daniel Kraus
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Bent Heavens Reviews

  • Crowinator

    I'm amending my star rating from 4 to 5 stars because I just cannot stop thinking about this book.

    I'm amending my star rating from 4 to 5 stars because I just cannot stop thinking about this book.

  • Tracy Robinson

    YES!!! What a great read.

    Family. Sacrifice. Suffering. Conspiracy. All of these things craft the main threads throughout Bent Heavens. This book was my first experience reading Kraus work. Prior to this I had only watched The Shape of Water, a collaboration with Guillermo del Toro that was also released as a novel. I even have two more Kraus books waiting in the wings, and after reading this one, I will be digging in sooner rather than later.

    As the synopsis notes, we follow the MC, Liv, as she

    YES!!! What a great read.

    Family. Sacrifice. Suffering. Conspiracy. All of these things craft the main threads throughout Bent Heavens. This book was my first experience reading Kraus’ work. Prior to this I had only watched The Shape of Water, a collaboration with Guillermo del Toro that was also released as a novel. I even have two more Kraus books waiting in the wings, and after reading this one, I will be digging in sooner rather than later.

    As the synopsis notes, we follow the MC, Liv, as she traverses a personal and public hellscape that would challenge even the toughest adult. I just love her. She is flawed and a mess and beautiful all at once. I work with teenagers on a daily basis and Kraus just really nails the high school environment and pressures. All from the perspective of a female. It’s impressive.

    I’m a fairly fast reader. Some of that is due to just who I am and some is due to necessity. I, like so many of us, have a busy, crazy life full of lots of things that demand my attention. All of which takes away time from reading a book. This book is one that even when I was away from it (against my will), I thought of it. I needed to know what happened. Two days ago, I finished this while sitting in the grocery store parking lot. I needed to read the last 50 pages and everything else could wait. Even food.

    I see many readers who don’t normally read or enjoy YA (hey – I don’t read much YA at all) mentioning they’d like to expand out a bit. This book may have a teenage protagonist and some teenage issues, but this is very much an adult fiction book. Emotional and physical trauma exist within these pages in a tug-of-war that left me reeling. It’s because I was so invested in the characters that I found myself flipping these pages, desperate to know what would happen. This book made me laugh, cringe, and cry: that’s a winner for me.

    TLDR? A relatively small cast of characters, in a small, nowhere Iowan city, experience otherworldly and very real traumatic experiences throughout the book. A blistering pace combined with conspiracy, revenge, love, and heartbreak combine to create a binge-worthy read for readers of YA and adult horror/sci-fi fiction. Add this one to your TBR – I need to discuss!

  • ✨Brithanie Faith✨

    I, too feel as though I've been abducted by aliens after reading this novel. I'm still not entirely sure what I just read, but it was pretty great nonetheless!

    If you're looking to dip your toe into young adult sci-fi/horror then this might be the book for you! The horror aspects of this were pretty mild, but at times it was definitely unsettling.

    Aliens- and conspiracies- and inner conflict aside, Bent Heavens also

    I, too feel as though I've been abducted by aliens after reading this novel. I'm still not entirely sure what I just read, but it was pretty great nonetheless!

    If you're looking to dip your toe into young adult sci-fi/horror then this might be the book for you! The horror aspects of this were pretty mild, but at times it was definitely unsettling.

    Aliens- and conspiracies- and inner conflict aside, Bent Heavens also touches on grief- and how people act when they're under a lot of pressure.

  • Mogsy (MMOGC)

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

    For so long, Ive been on the lookout for a YA horror that truly terrifies me, and I think Ive found it. Thats not to say author Daniel Kraus doesnt make a few plays toward YA traditions in Bent Heavens, but after reading it, I certainly feel as though Ive been through a hellish, insanity-inducing nightmare and barely made it back with my mind intact.

    Our story stars Liv Fleming, whose father Lee went missing more than two

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

    For so long, I’ve been on the lookout for a YA horror that truly terrifies me, and I think I’ve found it. That’s not to say author Daniel Kraus doesn’t make a few plays toward YA traditions in Bent Heavens, but after reading it, I certainly feel as though I’ve been through a hellish, insanity-inducing nightmare and barely made it back with my mind intact.

    Our story stars Liv Fleming, whose father Lee went missing more than two years ago, shortly after he started becoming mentally unstable and claiming that he had been a victim of alien abduction. The resulting paranoia had led Lee to take his daughter and her childhood friend Doug out into the woods to set traps for the aliens, which never ended up snaring anything more interesting than the odd squirrel. Still, even with her dad gone now, Liv continues to go out with Doug to the woods each day to check on the traps, partly out of tradition and partly out of hope. Even though what Lee had claimed about his abduction seemed impossible, neither do the teens want to believe that the man, whom they had both loved and respected, had been completely out of his head.

    But then one day, just when Liv was about to give up hope and take down the traps once and for all, she and Doug find a strange, monstrous-looking creature caught in one of them. With shock and horror, they realize Lee had been right, which now puts his disappearance in a whole new light. Desperate to find out what had become to her father, Liv reluctantly goes along with Doug’s plan to keep the alien a secret while they figure out how to communicate with it and force it reveal Lee’s whereabouts.

    Much of this occurs in the first half of the book, where the content remains quite tame. It’s what happens later on—as the story descends into dark, uncomfortable and disturbing territory—that makes Bent Heavens such a chilling, skin-crawling read. The beauty in it, too, is that there is not just a single dimension to this terror. It’s difficult to describe without giving away too much of the plot, but I will say the reason why I thought this novel was so effective is because of the combination of graphic detail and an atmosphere of unease. Kraus doesn’t pull any punches, and many of the ideas in here are meant to make you squirm, or like you’ve just taken a sucker punch to the gut. One-part body horror, one-part psychological thriller, this novel is designed to explore the darkness of human nature and the lengths we go to justify certain choices.

    Bent Heavens is a “mature” YA horror in that sense, one I would hesitate to recommend to everyone, let alone every teen, because there are moments that get too “real” for comfort despite the story’s speculative fiction undertones. So be aware, this book is not for the faint of heart, and if you do not want to read about themes related to pain, cruelty and torture, I would stay far away.

    Personally speaking, though, the darkness was what I loved about this book, the bold way it was written, knowing the complex emotions it would stir up and not caring. In fact, in some ways I wish this had been a purely adult novel, so we could have dispensed with certain YA conventions such as the exaggerated, high-school-style affectations in the dialogue or over-embellished prose. Liv herself is pumped full of adolescent angst, and she’s also involved in a lot of petty school-related drama that ultimately served little purpose. Furthermore, there was a pitiful attempt to shoehorn in a romance when the story really didn’t need one. Bruno’s presence seemed entirely unnecessary, and by the end of the book you realize he was just there as a tool to further plot development. Worse was how underdeveloped his character was, and rarely do Liv’s thoughts of him go beyond ogling his good looks. There’s meaningful diversity and then there’s token representation, and unfortunately, Bruno’s shallow portrayal makes it feel like the latter.

    That said, the overall storyline was solid and tightly paced, even with the aforementioned diversions and the needless hanky-panky with Bruno, because in the greater scheme of things, any flaws were just minor distractions. On the whole, Kraus did a phenomenal job tracing Liv’s evolution of thought, which serves as a reflection on the darker side of human psychology. Because of this, none of the main characters are going to feel all that sympathetic, but likely this is by design. And finally, there’s the ending, which admittedly had a twist that I saw coming, yet it was still so nauseatingly and viscerally awful and devastating that I think the intended emotional impact was still felt.

    So yes, Bent Heavens is a book that will stay with me for a long time. I would recommend it—but with caveats. You’ll probably need to be in a certain frame of mind to read and appreciate it, but if a truly unsettling horror is what you’re looking for and the novel’s description piques your interest, I would give it a try.

  • Carolyn Stover

    Liv Flemings father went missing two years ago, after claiming to have been abducted by aliens. What Liv does and becomes because of this made this book so hard to read, mainly because of the brutality but its also filled with grief, love, belonging and not belonging, hope and hopelessness. At times I had to take a break from this book. Surprising twists and turns near the end kept me from putting this book down. Ill be thinking about this for a long time. So, Im still thinking about Livs story.

    Liv Fleming’s father went missing two years ago, after claiming to have been abducted by aliens. What Liv does and becomes because of this made this book so hard to read, mainly because of the brutality but it’s also filled with grief, love, belonging and not belonging, hope and hopelessness. At times I had to take a break from this book. Surprising twists and turns near the end kept me from putting this book down. I’ll be thinking about this for a long time. So, I’m still thinking about Liv’s story. The amount of bravery she showed at the end was incredible. I’m glad a young female character displayed this.

  • Stacee

    Well, this is something I probably wouldnt have looked at if I didnt get the email from the publisher. Its being marketed as YA and Im not sure how because its quite graphic.

    I liked Liv. Shes struggling with grief and doesnt quite know how to deal with it, so shes lashing out and pretty much being a dick. Her relationship with Doug is interesting and I feel like a lot of that is what kept me reading. There are a few other characters, but this story is 100% focused on Liv.

    Plot wise, it was

    Well, this is something I probably wouldn’t have looked at if I didn’t get the email from the publisher. It’s being marketed as YA and I’m not sure how because it’s quite graphic.

    I liked Liv. She’s struggling with grief and doesn’t quite know how to deal with it, so she’s lashing out and pretty much being a dick. Her relationship with Doug is interesting and I feel like a lot of that is what kept me reading. There are a few other characters, but this story is 100% focused on Liv.

    Plot wise, it was okay. I thrive on dialogue and most of this story is inner monologue and sort-of-flashbacks. I spent a good portion of the story wondering how much of Lee’s story was going to be true and once something was caught, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. As I said above, it’s really graphic. There’s loads of violence and blood and I was feeling really bad for the thing they caught.

    Overall, it was a fairly dry read, but the last 25% of the book was amazing, very shocking, and raised my rating from 3 to 4 stars.

    **Huge thanks to Henry Holt BFYR for the invite to read**

  • Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    The premise of this novel was so incredibly intriguing that I had to check out this novel for myself. However, the synopsis was almost bit misleading because I did not get the story that I expected. Its hard to say more without giving away spoilers, but I know that this book is going to be divisive among readers. 

    In many ways the story reminded me of the authors previous work, The Shape of Water. I liked that one, but I did not love it. I feel similar about Bent Heavens. The writing was

    The premise of this novel was so incredibly intriguing that I had to check out this novel for myself. However, the synopsis was almost bit misleading because I did not get the story that I expected. It’s hard to say more without giving away spoilers, but I know that this book is going to be divisive among readers. 

    In many ways the story reminded me of the author’s previous work, The Shape of Water. I liked that one, but I did not love it. I feel similar about Bent Heavens. The writing was good, the characters were decent, but I did not find the actual mystery to be as intriguing as it should have been. 

    Despite being classified as young adult, I personally felt this novel read like adult fiction. Other than the ages of the protagonists, I honestly don’t know why this book was targeted at a younger audience. The story goes to some very dark places and has a level of maturity that I would not normally associate with YA literature.

    The science fiction elements in this book were very light. For the most part, this one read more like a contemporary story and could easily be consumed by readers who do not typically read science fiction. 

    Overall, I would recommend this one to readers looking for a slow-burn character story with some gut-punching emotional moments. 

    Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher.

  • OutlawPoet

    I don't know how much I can emphasize that, despite the ages of the characters, despite the parent trouble and the bully trouble and the general teen angst, this book is not YA.

    It's brutal, dark, and depressing.

    I also need to tell you that it's not E.T. Remember E.T.? Find the ugly/cute big-eyed alien, have compassion, try to save it?

    Nope.

    I'm not going to spoil it for you. I'll just say that, in this case, E.T. should have stayed home.

    It's a well written book and the author clearly didn't even

    I don't know how much I can emphasize that, despite the ages of the characters, despite the parent trouble and the bully trouble and the general teen angst, this book is not YA.

    It's brutal, dark, and depressing.

    I also need to tell you that it's not E.T. Remember E.T.? Find the ugly/cute big-eyed alien, have compassion, try to save it?

    Nope.

    I'm not going to spoil it for you. I'll just say that, in this case, E.T. should have stayed home.

    It's a well written book and the author clearly didn't even try to make it a pretty or light one.

    I just think it's a case of expectations crashing into reality...be prepared for reality to suck.

    Not for me, but if I were in a really dark, rage-filled mood, this might suit. Then again, it might not. I missed...compassion.

  • Tracy (The Pages In-Between)

    My Review- Thank you Henry Holt Books For Young Readers for gifting me an E-ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own.

    I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 Stars. It is out today to buy at your favorite retailers!

    I was so excited to see something new and fresh in the YA world! I love Alien stories, and I really enjoyed this one. Dont let the fact that this is YA fool you though. It is pretty damn intense, and dark. I am not an avid horror reader, but this was the perfect

    My Review- Thank you Henry Holt Books For Young Readers for gifting me an E-ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own.

    I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 Stars. It is out today to buy at your favorite retailers!

    I was so excited to see something new and fresh in the YA world! I love Alien stories, and I really enjoyed this one. Don’t let the fact that this is YA fool you though. It is pretty damn intense, and dark. I am not an avid horror reader, but this was the perfect book to open my eyes to the genre.

    Parts of this book do get pretty gruesome, there is some body mangling/gore so if you are weak stomached or triggered but such things, proceed with caution. For me, the writing was dark and delish, and it had me sitting on the edge of my seat, with my heart racing, and the urge to look over my shoulder. Not to mention the Alien Abduction dreams that this book induced!

    I haven’t read any other books by Daniel Kraus, but I am ready for more!

  • Kelly

    This is going to blow a lot of readers' brains. It is part alien story, part story about conspiracy theories, part story about the power of the media, part story about growing up without much in rural Iowa, and part story about family. It's by turns heartening and heartbreaking, and it's a story featuring a main character who is unlikable and angry and violent...and also one full of compassion, discovering a moral compass, and wrestling with unbelievable grief and frustration, taking it out

    This is going to blow a lot of readers' brains. It is part alien story, part story about conspiracy theories, part story about the power of the media, part story about growing up without much in rural Iowa, and part story about family. It's by turns heartening and heartbreaking, and it's a story featuring a main character who is unlikable and angry and violent...and also one full of compassion, discovering a moral compass, and wrestling with unbelievable grief and frustration, taking it out through the only means she can.

    Smart, complex, and exceptionally timely, Kraus's part-horror, part-science fiction, wholly human story is engaging, enraging, and an absolute winner. I'll be thinking about this book for a long time, and I can't wait to revisit it and see exactly how he wove everything together in such a compelling and savvy way.

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